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Apatura ilia.

Apatura ilia.
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter Stoeckl (peter_stoeckl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1738 W: 291 N: 4005] (11530)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-06-17
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-H5
Exposure: f/4, 1/200 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): European Butterflies 7 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-06-22 6:42
Viewed: 4896
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 42
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Apatura ilia (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775).

Lesser Purple Emperor, Kleiner Schillerfalter, Kleine weerschijnvlinder, Liten Skimmerfjäril, Mieniak strużnik, Dúhovec menší, Batolec červený, Pikkuhäiveperhonen, Le Petit Mars Changeant, Tornada chica.

Family: Nymphalidae
Subfamily: Apaturinae

Wing span: 65 - 70 mm.

For more details on life and distribution, please see

>>> Apatura ilia.

The longest days, the shortest nights, and festivities all over the place. Europeans are celebrating the days around the 21st of June. Everyone of us lucky enough to have a little bit of free time just has to go out. And hard to decide where to go not to miss anything.

Rohrwald, a humid forest near the river Danube northwest of Vienna, is a special place for its largely unspoilt nature. At this time of the year, I always have to go there to watch Emperor butterflies.

Two Emperor species, Apatura iris, and Apatura ilia may regularly be seen at that unique location when walking a path leading along the edge of oak, willow and poplar forest.

These days, there are so many Emperors lazily sitting and rapidly flying around, sometimes dozens of them at one time in one place. Last sunday, I felt like an invader into a tropical rainforest.

Male emperors at high noon are hard to capture, even though they love to sit around to suck moisture and minerals from the ground, briefly opening their wings to expose their flashy blue iridescent upper wing scales. Very alert, they usually will not allow you to get close enough for a good shot. They will rise and attack you, flying rapid circles around your head. Well, after a few minutes of getting used to you, they will definitely start to sit down on your head, on your shoulders, on your hands, on your feet, even on your camera, sucking traces of sweat. Not an actor's ideal behaviour.

But sometimes you may be lucky to spot one of them taking a brief rest sitting in the shadow on a leaf, watching what is going on around him. This one was taken with maximum tele-zoom from a distance of approx. 1.5 meters.

Tom Tolman, Richard Lewington: Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, Stuttgart 1998.
C.Jonko: Butterflies and Moths of Europe: http://www.lepidoptera.pl/

The camera:
SONY DSC-H5, 3072 x 2304 pixel, sRGB, 72mm tele macro zoom (equivalent 450mm at full size SLR), F/4, 1/400 sec., ISO-125, hand held, with fill flash. 17.06.2007, 12:38.

Photoshop Elements, cropped, resized to web, selectively sharpened. levels slighty adjusted, background saturation of colours selectively decreased.

No postwork increase of saturation of colours was made on the iridescent wing. When hit by a beam of strong light from a certain angle - no matter whether sunlight or flash - that flashy purple and blue on a male Purple Emperors wing comes true.

>>> Without the use of fill flash.

Thank you for looking.
Have a very good start of summer.


uleko, Aaltjie, anel, sandpiper2, ellis49, dew77, Argus, Alex99, Ken52, jmp, phlr, Maite, TheMystic, loot, Debz, JoseMiguel has marked this note useful
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Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To loot: ... amazing guy has not flown away yetpeter_stoeckl 1 07-26 03:30
To Debz: ... stumbled across on your shotspeter_stoeckl 1 07-26 02:59
To jmp: starting the summer -peter_stoeckl 1 06-29 16:18
To ellis49: fill-in flashpeter_stoeckl 1 06-23 05:52
To wishnugaruda: Paradies der Schmetterlinge?peter_stoeckl 1 06-22 19:05
To uleko: bright backgroundpeter_stoeckl 1 06-22 07:54
To Aaltjie: Together with Lootpeter_stoeckl 1 06-22 07:37
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-06-22 7:14]
  • [+]

Hello Peter,
Another wonderful capture from you! I've never seen the Purple Emperor so I've got something to look forward to. Excellent capture showing sharp details and lovely colours. A little snag is the bright background but even so well caught!
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

  • Great 
  • Bufo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 404 W: 69 N: 951] (4247)
  • [2007-06-22 7:17]

Hallo Peter,
I fully agree with you about the flash. Although I don't prefer it either, it proved it's use here. Nice view on as well thje upper side as the under parts. Maybe the head could be toned down in the exposure a bit.


At the end of your note you say, thank you for looking. I think you meant thank you for staring. My mouth is open, because this is an amazing photo.
Sharing this with us is much appreciated.
Amazing details, beautiful colours. Stunning capture. I have never, ever seen something like this before. Not even in a magazine or picturebook.
You deserve all the marks it will earn. If I could dedicate a photo to anybody, this would certainly be one of a few, I’ll add to my list of choices. I looked at your portfolio on previous occasions and you are very talented. I include you as the 2nd of my favourites. My special friend Loot is there as well.


  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-06-22 7:54]

Hallo Peter,
Grosse Freude wieder ein Bild von Dir zu sehen.
Und ein sehr spezielles. Dir ist hier etwas gelungen, was man bei Insekten wenig sieht. Es scheint als ob dieser kleine Schillerfalter Dir etwas mitteilen wollte. Der Blickwinkel ist toll, das Schillern, aber auch die Unterseite sichtbar.
Sehr lebendiger und persönlicher Begleitext.
Eine wahre Freude
Mit herzlichem Dank

Good shot Peter
Good use of flash, I like the blue upper wing.
Well composed


Hello Peter.

Excellent image, cery good details and colors.
Great composition.

Jose Luis.

Hi Peter,
a beautiful capture from you, the is a new one for me.
The blue colours are amazing. Very fine details and good DOF.
Maybe the fill-in flash is a bit to hard, but that's a minor nit.
Well done, my friend.

bonjour peter
j'ai vu pour la premiere fois ce papillon il y a deux semaines,il est fabuleux par ses changement de couleurs en fonction du soleil,le phenomene est bien present sur son aile gauche.
superbe photo.

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-06-22 9:25]

Hello Peter,
Very nice macro shot of this beautiful butterfly.POV,colors,exposure,lighting and framing are wonderful.Have a great weekend!

hello Peter
good sharpness, no noise, nice Purple Emperor with interesting colours, beautiful photo :))

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-06-22 10:34]

Hello Peter,
For me this is not only a fine sharp capture of A. ilia showing the colours and pattern of both surfaces of the wings, but also an excellent demonstration of the benefit of fill-in flash to a normal avoider of flash.
I must try to use it when such an occasion comes up.
Despite the low aperture, you have achieved a very good DOF.
Thanks for sharing this great shot!
Have a fine summer,

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-06-22 14:10]

Hi, dear Peter.
What an impressive return. Amazing set of photos. Sorry, but I more like the butterfly on the camera -: ))) because of I like the butterflies and the cameras -: )))

Amazing scene and reproduction of this beauty. Its pose, colours and details are simply great. Lights and shadows are very nice too. Flash work is perfect. I like flash light so much. Excellent note. I have read it with great interest. My kind regards and TFS.

Hi Peter,
er ist unbeschreiblich schön - diese glänzenden Flügel in Royalblau - es ist genial!
Österreich scheint mir ein Paradies der Schmetterlinge zu sein, ich beneide Dich!
Ich komme gerade vom Gardasee zurück - und was soll ich sagen - ich kann mir nicht erklären, weshalb es dort kaum Schmetterlinge gab!
Wir waren 2 Mal auf dem Monte-Baldo - aber bis auf ein paar Bläulinge - nix!!!
Das Klima in Lazise war unerträglich - 34 Grad und schwül - man war ständig feucht und verschwitzt! Lade gerade meine Bilder runter - mal sehen was ich als nächstes zeige, tschüssi und Grüße
Sabine - wishnugaruda

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2007-06-23 10:15]

Very nice focus with good edges. I really like the POV because we see the eye and both top and bottom of wings. Interesting how the light brins out the strong iridescent color.

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-06-23 13:59]
  • [+]

Hi Peter,
Interest effect of flash light over the wing! A great play of interference light can be seen here. I like compare the aspect of the same butterfly with and without flash.
Best regards, José M.
PS. I've started the summer reparing my right knee, so I'll miss everything!

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2007-06-24 15:15]

Hello Peter!
What an amazing and fabulous shot!! I do love the POV and the pose of this Emperor with its wings ajar.
Rohrwald sounds like a paradise just as you describe it, so full of such marvellous outstanding butterflies!
Magnificent job, my friend. Thank you very much for sharing.

Amazing colors just jump out at you, even from the thumbnail! Lovely capture!

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2007-07-01 17:05]
  • [3] [+]

Hi Peter

Long overdue, but finally (and thankfully) I made it...and not a moment too late, because fortunately this amazing guy has not flown away yet. I can understand why Aaltjie had to correct you about looking vs staring. That is very easy to do when you are confronted with such remarkable beauty.

A marvellous macro and you keep on surprising me with excellence upon excellence. This yellow eyed butterfly with the spectacular colours is nothing else but a pleasure on the eye. The oblique POV and the placing of the insect assisted to make this a great composition. The crispness in the details and the splendour in the colours once again carry that "Peter Stoeckl" mark of quality, distinction, and superiority. I know I might be deemed partial on the subject, but I really like the result of your usage of the fill-in flash. I would rather point out a slight nit in the natural light (that might be somewhat distracting) namely the splash of bright sun light on the leave and also in the BG. Anyway, there are much more positives in this shot than being overly bothered about such a small issue. With a little bit of PP work I understand one would be able to even fix that without any major or illegal optimisation as selective darkening might well fall within the scope of "Brightness" adjustment.

Excellent work MF and TFS.

PS. As a matter of interest, your exemplary use of the Sony Cybershot DSC-H5 has prompted me to acquire a DSC-H9. I find it increasingly difficult with my multiple leg problems (the left knee - not the one with the replacement prosthesis, my left foot, the continuous swelling of both legs, and the cellulites problem in my right leg) to keep on running after insects with my eye stuck to a view finder. Too many obstacles go unnoticed this way with disastrous results. Hopefully the H9 would make life a little easier as far as that aspect is concerned. I have not posted anything from this new camera as yet, but keep your eyes peeled.

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-07-02 1:32]
  • [+]

Hi Peter, I have just stumbled across on your shots. They are all wonderful, a great variety of Butterflies. I have heard and seen so much about the Purple Emporer, it is indeed a stunner. Very well shot and composed showing both sides of the wings. Nice and sharp with great colour range.

Hi Peter,
It is so good the force of that intense blue on the upper wings!
It really stand uo on the image.
I like very much the composition made, the 3/4 pose of the butterfly, and the different layers made by the leaves.
My compliments and thanks for share it.
Best regards,

Belle photo de ce papillon qui a des ailes superbes et rares,des couleurs différentes a l' intérieure et alextérieure,très bonne prise comme beaucoups de vos photos d' ailleurs .Amitiés Thomas
Je reviens.

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